Batmobile Copyright: When Functional Element Is A 'Character'

Law360, New York (October 1, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT) -- In early 2013, Judge Ronald Lew determined that the Batmobile is a comic book character entitled to full copyright protection in DC Comics v. Towle, 989 F. Supp. 2d 948 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 7, 2013).[1] Just last week, the Ninth Circuit affirmed Judge Lew’s decision, endorsing copyright protection for Batman’s four-wheeled sidekick.

While the Ninth Circuit recognized that copyright protection can extend to “sufficiently distinctive” elements of an original work, like comic book characters, the court cautioned that “[n]ot every comic book, television or motion picture character is entitled to copyright protection.” Distilling wisdom from relevant cases,[2] the Ninth Circuit established...

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